Monday, January 30, 2012

Days Go By

I gotta say, time is really flyin' by and I don't got no problems with that! Not one problem at all. In NO TIME AT ALL, I will be in the arms of my one and only and all my worries and cares will suddenly be forgotten. That is truly unbelievable to me. We're gettin' SO close! Still got some things on my to-do list though. Here are a few items I would like to accomplish before Adam comes home:

  1. Try out a few more recipes. I've tried out a BUNCH of new hits, but there's a few more that I want to make.
  2. Finish a few craft projects that I have started, but have not finished. A lot of them are baby gifts for friends/family.
  3. Finish decorating for Christmas once my box from my parent's house arrives. I know that sounds funny, because it's ALMOST FEBRUARY!!!, but I bought & was given Christmas decorations for gifts while I was in Cali, and couldn't pack all of them with me. 
  4. Decorate for Adam's homecoming. :D
  5. Steam clean the carpet
  6. Vacuum the car
  7. Get Baxter a haircut
  8. Become a member at the church I'm attending.
  9. Read the last book on my reading list: Crazy Love, Francis Chan
  10. Make Adam's welcome home gift :D

I know that's a lot of stuff, but I'm the type of person that needs to keep myself extrememly busy to distract my anxious mind. Plus, a lot of these things are pretty easy and won't take but an hour or two, so I really should be looking for more things. ;)

The song of my life right now, and will be for the next few weeks: Days Go By, Keith Urban. Man, who doesn't love that guy?!? All his songs are amazing, he's so talented! But this song speaks truth to my life right now. Days couldn't by flyin' by fast enough right now, but I still gotta keep livin' and marking things off my to-do list!



Happy Week all!! :D

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cleaning House

Being that there has been only one person (me) and one pooch (Baxter) living at our house, there's not a whole lot of "deep" cleaning that's necessary. Meaning, it's hard for one person to dirty up a house to the point you need to do a thorough cleaning of everything. So, today was the day. I was up to date on washing dishes, just not putting them away. So every inch of the house got cleaned, even underneath the microwave!!

As I stated in a prior post, I don't make resolutions, I just make a mental list of things I would like to work better on, but don't really think of them as resolutions (because then you are preparing yourself to fail). One of the areas I want to improve on is being frugal. Now, if any of you know Adam, we got that area covered pretty well. I'm frugal too in a lot of ways, but there are certain things I just think we could do in a cheaper way. For instance, buying chemicals that are over-priced, in particularly, mop solutions and all-purpose cleaners. Once I run out of the supply that I've had for awhile, I am going to start making them myself. Also, I need to do better at keeping track of coupons I have. I'm usually pretty good at this, but today when I was at the store, I had to throw away a bunch of good coupons that expired at the end of December. Umm, why did these brands have to have a sale now? And why didn't I notice all these coupons? It was like 15 coupons! Mad at myself for that. Could have gotten some good sales today. Oh well. You live and learn. Right?

Today was a trial run of an all-purpose cleaner that is good for the floors. So I made the solution in the sink, dipped my towel into the solution, and got on my hands and knees and cleaned all the tile areas in the house (kitchen, dining room, entry way, bathroom, and laundry room). It came out good and worked wonders!! I got handed down a clorox mop (kind of like a swiffer, but it comes with a resolution) and it cleans really well, but the solution leaves the floor sticky. Not this one. I'm satisfied. If you're interested in the solution, here are the 4 ingredients:

All-Purpose Cleaner:
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup rubbing alcohol
9 drops of your preferred dish-soap

Since I doubled the "recipe" this cost me $2.85 (I'm not calculating in the dish soap, that would be rediculous.). I didn't want to put it in a spray bottle, since I was using it for only the floors this time, but my floors were really dirty due to Baxter being sick, so I used the whole sink worth of resolution. Next time it will go in a spray bottle.

Just like that, you can get your floors clean. If you keep it in a spray bottle, you could use it for getting spots off the wall, cleaning tile, getting grease off the stove, etc.

Felt pretty good to get it all this done. The next time I'll have to do another good cleaning will be right before Adam gets home!!!!!!!!!

 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

First Sale

So I have received my first customer for my Zipper Flowers!! One of my old co-workers was interested in them and wanted me to make 3 of the zipper flowers into hair clips. It's pretty exciting. I think they came out real cute. Since I was already going to be making some, I went ahead and created 2 others as headbands for a good friend of mine, and then made a hair clip for me to wear. Please don't mind me in the pictures, I had to take them myself, would have looked better if I had someone to take them of me. Next time! :D

If you're interested at all in a zipper flower for either hair clips, headbands, or brooches, just let me know and I would be happy to create one for you! I finally came up with a cost: Hair clip and Brooch $8, Headband, $10. 


*My first purchased items!!*
*My new hair clip*
*A Zipper Flower Headband*
*A Zipper Flower Headband* Whatcha think?? 



Friday, January 27, 2012

Dealing With A Deployment

Do you like my new re-vamped blog? I DO! I was feeling like a change, and I'm lovin' this change. If you haven't read my header, Hope For Military Wives, then this post will seem like it's a surprise. But it's not. I would suggest you give it a brief read, then come and read this blog. :D

My friend Marie Lester, over at Home Is Where The Heart Is, a fellow military wife and I, have decided to come together and do a three part series called "Dealing With A Deployment." If we get good responses, we hope to continue working together on different series, but we'll see when the times comes. We are very excited to unveil our first part to the series today.

 

Jasmine
Deployment is tough. There are so many words that can describe it; it's hard to choose the right word or words to express a feeling to associate it with. Everyone feels something different, thus dealing with it differently. My experience, most likely will not be your experience. But the beauty of it all is that's ok.

Let me start off by saying I am new to this. I am no trained or skilled professional. I am still going through my first deployment, but he's set to be back soon. YEAH! So my experiences will definitely be different than Marie's or yours, but I think I have a lot to bring to the plate. My husband left for deployment on August 10, 2011. I didn't know what to expect, since I hadn't done this before, however, I did know that the day was going to be hard no matter what. Yes, I had left him for basic and then again for A school, but those weren't for nearly as long. Three months is a lot easier than seven months (when it's all a brand new experience for you). I knew I was going to be a basket case. And I was. And you know what? I had (and you have) every right to be sad. It's ok to be sad. Quite frankly, it would be hard not to. You're showing him that you care so much for him, because you feel sad to be away from him. The hardest part of that day, was the last memory I have of him. We were hugging by the terminal, he gave me one last kiss good-bye, gave the attendant his boarding pass, and while he walked away from me he said "I love you so much. Never forget that," as tears flowed down his cheeks. Yes, that was hard. The hardest thing I've done so far in life. As I watched his plane take off and leave, with my one true love, I instantly was hit with the shock of it all. All of a sudden you have this huge wave of realization: he is gone. He is gone for seven months, and I will not physically see him until the end of this time. I won't be able to hug him, kiss him, and tell him face to face how much he means to me. He. Won't. Be. Here.

Fortunately, the wife that Adam's friend who had gone to A school with him and got stationed in WA and reporting at the same time too, Demi Hines, drove with me back to the hotel we had stayed at. (I would highly recommend carpooling to the airport if your hubby is leaving from an airport with a friend. You both can help calm each other down.). However, from the hotel we both would be driving back to our houses alone. I remember driving home and I couldn't listen to any music. I had just gotten into Country music and we all know that country music has everything to do with love, feelings, and eggs at our hearts emotions. Ya, that's not what I needed at that point. I had the quietest drive of my entire life. And if you know me, my radio is always on and I am singing to every song I know. Yes, it was weird. But on the car ride home, realization came over me again. This time feeling that you know what, he is gone and there's nothing I can do about it and I am going to have to get myself through this. So that was my mentality from day one. That day I was set to leave to go back to Cali to finalize our move, thus heading back to the airport. Fortunately, I was able to be with family by nights end, although, it didn't make dealing with emotions any easier. It was hard, because I felt like I had to mask my emotions for my family, although they were trying really hard to distract me. Nothing really works. Nothing is going to make you feel instantly better, because the only one that can is gone. However, you can take your family as being helpful and not annoying. The first night was so hard. However, not only was this hard because I wouldn't physically see him for seven months, but this was also the day before my birthday. Great timing right? Wrong. The day after he left, my birthday, was so strange. I had always celebrated my birthday with him, and it just felt different. That's when it really set in that from now on I'm gonna have to get used to him missing life events. Although the day was long, hard, and not normal, it was manageable. And you know what? I got through it. And those were the hardest two days of the deployment thus far. Why? Because I am a positive person.

Positivity is one of my strengths. I went to Azusa Pacific University (APU) and one of the things that you do when you first start taking courses, is you take a Strengths Based Test, based off of the book, StrengthsQuest. Like most personality tests, one answers a series of questions and then gets results that show one's weaknesses and ways that you can improve them to be strengths. However, with Strengths Quest, the creators, Donald Clifton and Edward "Chip" Anderson, believe that is the wrong way to go about it. Instead, they believe that you answer a series of questions and it gives you a list of your top 5 strengths, and ways that you can prevent these from becoming your weaknesses. It's actually really helpful. In junior college before APU, I took two different types of personality tests, and I didn't find them helpful at all. This one is so resourceful. So when I took the test, positivity was one of my strengths that I wasn't too surprised about. This enables me to view this deployment with the mentality, "it is what it is." Yes, I am sad about _________, but it could be worse. This is frustrating, but it's not Adam's fault. Let me tell you the power of positive thinking. It works wonders! Although there were times where situations or things were difficult and I would have moments where I was frustrated (usually involving technology), I didn't or haven't let it consume my whole being and mentality. One day of slipping up is different than letting it consume your mentality for days, weeks, months, or maybe even the whole deployment. While other people fixated over the smallest details that we have the power to control whether it affects us or not, I was smooth sailing. I am not saying this to sound cocky. I am saying this to state my next point. What does it take to think positive, if it does not come natural to us? Here are 7 ways to look at your life and see what you could evaluate:

1. DO NOT WATCH THE NEWS!!! It will not do you any good! The news displays a negative connotation, most of the time, and that is not helpful.
2. Get out all distractions from your life that brings you into negative thinking. If you need to take a break from FB, so be it. If you need to take a break from love songs, because they are making you sad, don't listen to them. If you can't watch sappy romance, chic flicks, DON'T watch them. If you can't stand to see happy couples holding hands or making out, DON'T go to the mall. You know what affects you, so don't do those things.
3. Don't let negative people bring you down. If you need to take a break from certain people in your life for a period of time, politely excuse yourself from certain situations, or kindly tell them the situation. It will help BIG time.
4. Let yourself have moments, knowing it is ok to be down and cry, however, if you find this to be a ritual or lasting for long periods of time, then I would not suggest it.
5. EXERCISE!! Great distraction PLUS it helps relieve tension (More on that next week).
6. Find resources or groups online. HOWEVER, if you find that a lot of people are negative on those sites, then stop keeping up with them. There are certain groups that are good and helpful, and certain ones that are full of drama or full of negative people. I had to take a long break from all of them, as this was the case.
7. What really helps me, every step of the way, every day, and every moment: GOD. Reading the Bible and being swept away by his comfort, strength, and provision is the total reason why I am a sane human being today (More on that next week).

These are just a few great tips (Marie offers some other good dos and don'ts. These are my stay positive ones).

Marie
First off I will say this: no two deployments are exactly alike, much like no relationship is exactly the same; things, places, situations, and people are all different. So what I'm saying are things I did that helped, things I realize I should've done, good advice I got, or things I want you to know I am giving, so you don't make the same mistakes I did. My husband may also have a different job than your _________.(fill in the blank with whatever applies). So he maybe was in a different area, going through different things, and most likely with different people. Don't take anything personally! It's not meant that way...♥

And here we go, my husband left for Afghanistan in June of 2010, our first deployment and our first year of being married. Keep in mind neither of us was very strong in the Lord at this point in our lives, so obviously our marriage wasn't either. I reacted very much to the shock of deployment like many women do. I was HYPER, I drank WAY to much coffee, I did NOT sleep, I CONSTANTLY had my phone with me, I was so freaking motivated to ACCOMPLISH THINGS!!!!...*I didn't know what but darn it I was going to DO things while he was gone! Great things! Make him proud!* And I was NOT going to cry!

To put it simply I was so freaking unstable I should not have been operating a motor vehicle or preparing people's food (I was a cook at a restaurant at the time). I was rushing, rushing, rushing around all the time. I needed things to be perfect ALL the time, when my life was the farthest thing from perfect. I was having a hard time sitting down, breathing, and accepting the fact that this was happening no matter how scarey it was. It was not going away or magically getting fixed. My biggest problems were in the beginning of deployment (which is a little weird most women or the ones I've known have a harder time at the middle and end). I will say that I began to make very poor decisions, as emotionally things became harder and harder and I sank into a very bad depression, and my husband went into his own. I will spare you details if you want to know or need to talk yourself feel free to Contact Me! And I will just end this by saying I thank God every day that I 'woke up' and he was still there waiting for me and pulled me out of that depression (but that's more for next time!).

Remember
Alcohol does NOT help
Friends do NOT help
Buying things WILL NOT (Seriously not EVER) help
Having a job that works you to death does NOT help
Acting like everything is fine does NOT help
Everything in Moderation
OPSEC

Do
Find a small group of trustworthy, drama-free, friends that you can confide in.
Exercise regularly, the endorphins help!
Remember that depression and anxiety are treatable and nothing to be ashamed of!
Keep a journal, and remember to be honest with yourself!
Give yourself one designated 'cry day' a week, a day to be down and frumpy and blaah and to just cry. Your feelings are valid and don't be ashamed of how you feel. Don't feel as if you are in competition with someone else who is 'handling it better.' You are different. There is nothing wrong with that! Crying isn't bad, anger isn't bad, being happy while he's gone isn't bad. Just remember not to let the negative emotions take over your life.
Get a pen-pal.
Look for support groups on Facebook (beware of the ones that attract drama).

Don't 
Try to explain it all to civilian friends. If you do, don't be upset when they don't get it.
Watch the news (no really turn the tv off). T
ake everything he says seriously.
Be upset if he isn't his usual sweet self.
Push him to make big decisions while he's gone.
Over plan R&R.
Let the military take over your life. You still have an identity, and chances are your husband feels the same way. Remember he isn't JUST a soldier. Yes, that is his job, but make sure you let him know you're proud of HIM not his job. That you Love HIM not his uniform.
Take things people say personally. Chances are they don't get it.
Try to be super woman.

We hope that you liked this post. Stay tuned next week for Dealing With A Deployment, Part Two: Handling a Deployment.

♥,

Marie &

Monday, January 23, 2012

Do Everything

Sorry I haven't been posting a Saturday Laugh post in awhile. There hasn't been much comedy in my life lately. Quite the contrary rather. Seems like everything goes wrong in the beginning of a deployment and then gets rather boring in the middle of a deployment, and then gets real crappy towards the end as you are waiting, quite impatiently to be honest, for the arrival of someone so dear to your life. So there's been nothing to share. Sorry, folks!

Waiting impatiently for Adam's arrival has abruptly become my mood. I've been a very good girl this whole deployment, and then BAM the last 40 days are killing me. I figured out that it's because my week got abruptly changed and jostled this last week due to Stormageddon, and it kind of messed with my head, emotions, and overall attitude. I got sucked into an overall impatient, too anxious, exhausting mood on Saturday, maybe due to the fact that I caught a bug from the kids at work, and I just needed to hear from Adam. It had been longer than he usually goes to call me, so I emailed him to call me. He called me early, too early, Sunday and the call didn't go through. Then he called me back a minute later and the call abruptly hung up after only 2 minutes. I know I'm used to this already, but being that it was a time that I actually needed to talk to him, it really got to me. I thought he might call back, but he didn't. After an hour of being frustrated, mad, angry and sad, I finally was able to fall asleep after 2 hours (I later found out that he had tried to call me back on all the phones, but they all weren't working). I suddenly woke up at 10 am, and realized that I needed to rush and get ready for church, because this was the one day that I actually needed to be at church. I've been feeling the devil on my prowl, and I knew if I missed church, he would have more reason to keep me in that terrible mood.

So glad I went to church! The message was exactly what I needed to hear. Have you ever felt a time where you feel like there is no one else in the room and the pastor is talking directly to you? Yup, that was me on Sunday. However, the church was packed. Here are some brief notes of the sermon:

The title of the series we're on is STORMS of this life, ie. financial storms, relationship storms, health storms, etc.

Read Mark 6:45-53a (Jesus walking on the water)

Storms: can overwhelm us with fear or frustration.
Even when God is extraordinarily silent, He is not absent.
Some storms reveal that our prayers are strong but our faith is weak.
The in-between times will test our trust and sanity. (We know we aren't where we used to be, but we aren't yet where we want or are supposed to be).
What to do:
Keep rowing and keep moving forward.
Check your attitude
Stay in the boat, don't give up. Going against the wind is hard, but most people quit right before change.
We get so frustrated that we miss what God is doing around us.
Because we are delayed doesn't mean we are denied.

Isn't this good stuff?!? I've been lovin' this series, especially yesterday's sermon.

On my way to church and also on my way home from church, I heard the same song on the radio that spoke directly to my current problems. I never had heard the song before and instantly felt touched by the lyrics, because I know that God meant for me to hear this song yesterday. It was totally in His plan. To my surprise, the song ended up being Steven Curtis Chapman's, Do Everything, after further researching when I got home. I didn't realize that he made any cool new Christian Contemporary songs anymore. Completely blew my mind! The dude's almost 50 this year and he's still making songs that sound like he could be in his 20's (not that that's bad at all, just more awesome that God is still using him!). Crazy! Anyways, here are the lyrics that touched me:

Ooooooooooh Ohhhhhhhhhhh Ohhhhhhhhhhh
You’re picking up toys on the living room floor
for the 15th time today.
Matching up socks and sweeping up lost
Cheerios that got away.
You put a baby on your hip and color on your lips
and head out the door.

And while I may not know you, I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all?
We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you,

Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

OOoh ooooh oooooh
Maybe you’re that guy with the suit and tie
Maybe your shirt says your name
You may be hooking up mergers, cooking up burgers
But at the end of the day
Little stuff big stuff in between stuff
God sees it all the same
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all

We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you do
Everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you
To do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace with every move that you make
And every little thing that you do

Well maybe you’re sitting in math class
Maybe you're on a mission in the Congo
Maybe you’re working at the office
Singing along with the radio
Maybe you’re dining at a five star
Or feeding orphans in Myanmar
Anywhere and everywhere you are
Whatever you do it all matters
So do what you do and don’t ever forget to do
*Courtesy of sweetlyrics.com*

 


Didn't I tell you the song was awesome? Doesn't it just touch your soul? I mean, to know that whatever you are doing has purpose, when you are doing it for His glory, because it all is contributing to His master plan. Man, that definitely is the ultimate pick-me-up song. SO glad that God intended it to be that way for me yesterday, to hear this song and be motivated more for His name. It also helped that I got a call from Adam last night, where we actually had an amazing conversation for almost 40 minutes, with no disconnections or interruptions!! Man, that was nice!

I am glad that I am back to normal and that my no good Saturday was completely forgotten by an awesome-blossom Sunday!

I hope you all had a great first two days of a brand-new week!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Zipper Flower Infant Girl Headbands

So it's been awhile since I posted about the Zipper Flowers I've made. I posted a while back that I just went through an uncrafty phase, where nothing seemed fun to do, although I had a lot of projects on hold. Well, now I've hit a streak. I decided to combine the idea of the Zipper Flowers with the elastic lace flower infant girl headbands I make. I've made the elastic headbands as a gift for my niece Emma, my friend Rachel's baby on the way, Audrey, and my parents' neighbors little girl on the way. They've been pleasers so far.


Here's how the idea turned out:


*Zipper Headbands for infant girls*

*New creations of elastic flower headbands for infant girls*



Whatcha think of them?? I'm curious on your thoughts and input.

A Morning of Blessings

Today is a good day. Although I wish work didn't call and cancel my shift, as well as others, but there are things that have already made my day today.

1. MY HUBBY IS ON HIS WAY HOME!!! :D Readin' this article bright and early this morning. IE. 9 am, just put a smile on my face. Read it, you'll get one on your face for us, too!
2. I'm gettin' some crafty projects done that have been waitin' for me on my sewing table. I plan to prep a bunch today, so they'll go by faster.
3. I am about to finish the book of Daniel, just 1 1/2 more Chapters left to go. I'm glad I made the decision to re-read the "stories" of the Bible of, ie. Joseph, Daniel, Jonah, etc. Got down Joseph and now almost Daniel. Joseph's story really humbles me (Genesis 37-50)! I would suggest reading it for some comfort and humility.
4. I have great leftovers in my fridge from some awesome meals I've made this week. I need to post the ones I have made the last couple of days, they were really good!
5. I finished watching Season 4 of the Office today and watching the bloopers at the end of the 4th disc ALWAYS makes me laugh!! ♥ that show!!
6. The USO is awesome!! Being a military family has its percs, sometimes. But there are a lot of free services that are out there if you just take the time to look. Like I can send free picture postcards, make free welcome home banners or signs, and get a free photographer to capture his homecoming. AWESOME RIGHT!!??!! LOVE that!! I received the banner I had made for his homecoming yesterday afternoon and looked at it this afternoon and it's perfect!! It's becoming real that it's not too far away!!
7. Talking to family is always a plus, too!

What's happened to you today that has made you smile?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Letting Go

I never really made a post marking the highlights of last year and transitioning into the new year. I guess today's the day, since work called and they don't need me. Which I'm totally fine with, because I get to enjoy the snow today! The other days when I posted about the snow. Please, that was nothing. Today it's SOMETHING!! It's still snowing and hasn't stopped. We're probably around 4-5" by now. Which for a Cali girl translates into, A LOT!! I got a lot done today. I took a snow walk, had a snowball fight with Baxter, AND made a Jasmine snow angel. Yes, I do plan to get stuff done today. But really, those things can hold off. IT'S SNOWING!!!!

ANYWAYS...As you can tell, the snow easily gets me side-tracked. Back to transitioing into 2012.

These were the highlights of 2011:
~In February we became an Aunt & Uncle, as Emma Grace Zickefoose was born on the 16th.
~Adam also became active duty in February and graduated from boot camp April 22.
~I became an alum of APU, as I graduated on May 7th.
~We celebrated our one year anniversary, in which Adam surprised me with a visit.
~Adam got stationed in Kitsap County, WA. We are now officially Washingtonians!
~We became parents to the cutest dog in the world, Baxter, who is now 6 months.
~Adam embarked on his first deployment on the USS John C Stennis for 7 months.

This year I am working on my relationship with God. I am making the effort to cleanse my life from things that lead me astray from Him, such as music, movies, etc. I want to have things in my life that lead me to Him, encourage me & lift me up, instead of the opposite. I think this will be a good thing.

Lately, all I have been listening to is Newsboys Devotion album, and I can really tell the difference in my attitude and overall demeanor when I listen to uplifting, encouraging songs, that make me dwell in Him. I mean, it's been a significant difference. I literally am listening to that CD all the time, except at work of course.

This brought me to think that I need to be listening to more music that brings me closer to Him. So today I deleted all the music in my Itunes that I felt would not be encouraging to me. I haven't been listening to most of the songs I am referring to anyways, but I know it's something I've been putting off for awhile. Today, it got done (yet another good thing coming from this snowfall :)

Other things on my list:
*Spending time to simply be quiet. Finding a quiet spot, where I can just listen to God. Be still with Him. I tend to come to God with a distracted mind, thus giving Him less of what I really should be.
*Finding different ways to encourage people.
*Keeping in touch with family.
*Training Baxter to play fetch (a lot harder than it sounds)

I don't want to call any of these resolutions, they're just things that I want to work on. Have you thought about ways you can be better?

Let me leave you with pictures of my snow-day-in.


*The view from my house looks like a fairy tale ♥ *

*He was having fun in the snow, I promise!*


*Although he did find under this bush comforting.*

*Our footprints*

*My snow angel*



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Day Was Made

My day was made by this young lad I talked about yesterday, Marie. She gave me the nicest compliment, EVER. Just thought I'd share it with you. :D

Hope you all had a marvelous day! Always be on the lurk; you never know who's day you can make, by even the smallest gesture!


Monday, January 16, 2012

I Smile

I guessed my fingers were crossed real tight last night (or the weather man was right, but I prefer to believe my first reasoning), because it snowed late this morning from about 10-1130am. So Baxter and I headed outside to enjoy it while it lasted.






*Snowfall*






*Baxter playing in the snow*

A song that goes long with the weather this morning and also is encouraging, is a song called I Smile by Kirk Franklin. This artist was introduced to me by a fellow military wife, Marie, that I met through a Facebook group. She's pretty much amazing, and is very encouraging to have around to talk to. :D She directed me to this song, and glad she did. It's different that what I normally hear, but it's really rich in it's words. Simple but rich. Check out the music video here, or here's a portion of the lyrics below. The song pretty much repeats these stanzas over again.

I Smile
Today’s a new day, but there is no sunshine.
Nothing but clouds, and it’s dark in my heart
and it feels like a cold night.
Today’s a new day, but where are my blue skies.
Where is the love and the joy that you promised me
tell me it’s alright.

(I’ll be honest with you)

I almost gave up, but a power that I can’t explain,
fell from heaven like a shower now.

(When I think how much better I’m gonna be when this is over)

I smile, even though I hurt see I smile,
I know God is working so I smile,
Even though I’ve been here for a while
I smile, smile..
It’s so hard to look up when you’ve been down.
Sure would hate to see you give up now.
You look so much better when you smile, so smile.
*Courtesy of www.songonlyrics.com*

Wasn't I right when I said the song was simple but so rich. There's something about simplicity when talking about God that I just love. Sometimes that's what we need. To take out all the complexity, that usually confuses us, and just tell us, what we need to hear in basic terms. Love this song!

Anyways, tonight I took myself on a date. Well, not out on a date, I just chose to stay in, but do things a little differently. I made myself a nice dinner, recipe is below, of a Chicken Breast with Mushroom Cream Sauce and made Cauliflower Couscous Pilaf for a side, again, with a glass of wine. I then proceeded into the living room and watched seasons 3-4 of the Office and shared a few good laughs with myself. I had a great time! It was nice. Can't wait to make the dish for Adam, though!

Recipe: Chicken Breast with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:
2 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and tenders removed (see Tip)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
2 tablespoons dry vermouth, or dry white wine (I used Yellow Tail's, Sauvignon Blanc. The wine specialist at Fred's told me it's a great cooking wine).
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, or scallion greens

Directions:
1.Season chicken with pepper and salt on both sides.
2.Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once or twice and adjusting the heat to prevent burning, until brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 12 to 16 minutes. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
3.Add shallot to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Pour in vermouth (or wine); simmer until almost evaporated, scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute. Pour in broth and cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cream and chives (or scallions); return to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, turn to coat with sauce and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Nutritional Info:
Per serving: 275 calories; 15 g fat ( 5 g sat , 7 g mono ); 84 mg cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrates; 25 g protein; 1 g fiber; 373 mg sodium; 370 mg potassium.
*Courtesy of www.eatingwell.com/recipes*

This was a great deal and made my date happy (ie. myself)!! I would make this the next time you are looking to have a nice date-in.

*Theirs*
*Mine*

Hope you realize in your week, despite all the chaos, business, and storms you may be going through, that there is a reason to smile! :D

I'll leave you with a quote from the great Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

♥ to you all!






Sunday, January 15, 2012

Waking Up To Snow

Today was a pretty cool day. I woke up to beautiful, powdery snow this morning!! This is the first time it's happened since living in Washington, so it goes down in history for me and my memories here. Baxter wasn't curious at all. He did his morning business extra quick and then raced back inside, although it wasn't really enough for him to get curious about, but that's besides the point. Then on my way to church, I saw my first Washington Coyote dash across the freeway. What an exciting start to my day, I'll say!



*Waking up to snow/pixie dust*



*My first WA snow fall*

It's supposed to also snow for the next two days, so I'm crossing my fingers extra tight. I wonder what other wild animals I'll see within the next couple of days....

Happy week all!



Saturday, January 14, 2012

Great Dinner Combo

The other night I made a delicious dinner. Instead of only making one new recipe, I made 2 and had one as a main dish and the other as a side (or it could have been an appetizer). I was really happy with my choice to combine them both into one meal; best choice of my life (not really, but it was extremely good!). Here they are:

Cauliflower & Couscous Pilaf
Makes 6 servings, be generous 3/4 cup each

Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups finely chopped cauliflower florets, (about 1 medium head)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup currants (I didn't use currants)
2/3 cup whole-wheat couscous
1/2 cup sliced scallion greens
(I also added in a lemon-peppered Chicken breast)

1.Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cauliflower and salt; cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add broth, orange zest, juice and currants; bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in couscous and scallions. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Nutritional Info:
Per serving: 163 calories; 3 g fat ( 0 g sat , 2 g mono ); 1 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 6 g protein; 6 g fiber; 239 mg sodium; 356 mg potassium.

This took less than 25 minutes to prepare! The longest part about this was cutting the Cauliflower. The couscous itself took 5 minutes to make. And BAM! Your dinner is ready! I cut down the servings while preparing, to make enough for 2 servings, and accidently zested too much orange. However, that ended up being a GREAT mistake!! It didn't taste to orangey, despite it having extra zest. Super delicious pilaf!!

Oven-Fried Zucchini Sticks
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
Canola or olive oil cooking spray
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I didn't have any, so I didn't use it)
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, (about 3 medium), cut into 1/2-by-3-inch sticks
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

1.Preheat oven to 475°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
2.Combine flours, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a large sealable plastic bag. Dip zucchini in egg white, shake in the bag to coat, and arrange, not touching, on the baking sheet. Coat all exposed sides with cooking spray.
3.Bake on the center rack for 10 minutes. Turn the zucchini and coat any floury spots with cooking spray. Continue to bake until golden and just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes more. Serve hot.

Nutrional Info:
Per serving: 127 calories; 2 g fat ( 0 g sat , 0 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 4 g fiber; 427 mg sodium; 524 mg potassium.

I actually used my home-made Spaghetti Sauce as a dipping sauce to the Zucchini Sticks, which accompanied it VERY well. Super yummy!









*Theirs*
*Theirs*

*Mine*

All-in-all folks, this was a SUPER tasty meal!

*All recipes courtesy of www.eatingwell.com/recipes*





Friday, January 13, 2012

From Here To The Moon And Back

Tonight I went to go see the movie Joyful Noise with a friend from my bible study. It was cute/funny movie, and the music was really well-done in it. I always enjoy a movie with good music. Plus, I love Queen Latifah! Who doesn't?!? Anyways, there was a song Dolly Parton sang in it (that she actually wrote to my surprise upon research when I got home) that really touched me. I immediately thought that the lyrics expressed the love I have for Adam, so I thought I'd share the song with you.

From Here To The Moon And Back

I could hold out my arms, say "I love you this much"
I could tell you how long I will long for your touch
How much and how far would I go to prove
The depth and the breadth of my love for you?

From here to the moon and back
Who else in this world will love you like that?
Love everlasting, I promise you that
From here to the moon and back
From here to the moon and back

I want you to know you can always depend
On promises made and love without end
No need to wonder how faithful I'll be
Now and on into eternity

From here to the moon and back
Who else in this world will love you like that?
Forever and always, I'll be where you're at
From here to the moon and back
From here to the moon and back

I would blow you a kiss from the star where I sat
I would call out your name to echo through the vast
Thank heaven for you and to God, tip my hat
From here to the moon and back
And I'll spend forever just proving that fact
From here to the moon and back

From here to the moon and back.
*Courtesy of www.dollyon-line.com*

Isn't it such a cute song?!

I love you Adam. Although you are somewhere amongst the ocean afar, my love still reaches to wherever you are! ♥




Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Asian Green Bean Stir Fry

Here is a recipe for my dinner last night. Let me just say it was very good! I won't even say any more, I'll just dive right into the recipe.

Asian Green Bean Stir Fry
4 servings, 1 cup each

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Pinch of crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup water
1 14-ounce can mixed stir-fry vegetables, rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups frozen mixed stir-fry vegetables, thawed
1 tablespoon black bean-garlic sauce (found in the ethnic food section of the grocery store. Look real hard, it may be hiding right in front of you!)

1.Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green beans and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring often, until seared in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Add water, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes for tender-crisp or 6 minutes for tender. Uncover, increase heat to medium-high, add stir-fry vegetables and black bean-garlic sauce. Cook, stirring often, until heated through and most of the liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

Nutritional Facts:
59 calories; 2 g fat ( 0 g sat , 1 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 5 g fiber; 327 mg sodium; 238 mg potassium.


*Courtesy of eatingwell.com/recipes*

How awesome is the recipe?! And how awesome is it that it's only 59 calories!! I love that! It really is this easy. The taste is really good, with a dash of soy sauce it makes it that much better! I would suggest to serve this with vegetable fried rice (I've made this recipe too, and it's real good!), and add chicken to the vegetables, and there is your meal right there for you! Bada-bing, bada-boom.






*Theirs*






*Mine*






Happy eating!





Monday, January 9, 2012

When The Tears Fall

Lately all I am listening to ony my itunes is Newsboys Devotion album. No, not New Boyz, Newsboys. I've had it in my itunes for awhile now, but only listened to maybe 1 song, and just ignored all the others. Poor songs! I feel bad now (like they actually have feelings), because the whole album is phenomenal! My favorite, favorite songs are 5-10 on the album. SO rich with telling God's mercies, endless amount of love for us, and all his promises that are miraculously true. When I was younger, I liked Newsboys, but only maybe 3 songs from them. I have no idea why I was hating on them. They got it. What I mean by that, is they understand how to share God's truth to the world, in beautifully written songs, that bring tears to my eyes because of how true their words have been to my own life. One song in particular is the last song on the album, When The Tears Fall. Read these words, and you will be touched (and not only by a tissue). I guarantee it. Or you can listen to it here on youtube.


I've had questions, without answers
I've known sorrow, I have known pain
But there's one thing, that I'll cling to
You are faithful, Jesus You're true


When hope is lost, I'll call You saviour
When pain surrounds, I'll call You healer
When silence falls, You'll be the song within my heart

In the lone hour of my sorrow
Through the darkest night of my soul
You surround me and sustain me
My defender, forevermore


When hope is lost, I'll call You saviour
When pain surrounds, I'll call You healer
When silence falls, You'll be the song within my heart

And I will praise You, I will praise You
When the tears fall, still I will sing to You
And I will praise You, Jesus praise You
Through the suffering still I will sing

When hope is lost, I'll call You saviour
When pain surrounds, I'll call You healer
When silence falls, You'll be the song within my heart

Oh yes, You are good to me
You've always been good to me
So trustworthy


When hope is lost, I'll call You saviour
When pain surrounds, I'll call You healer
When silence falls, You'll be the song within my heart

And I will praise You, and I will praise You
When the tears fall, still I will sing to You (I will sing to You)
I will praise You, Jesus praise You
Through the suffering still I will sing

How faithful and true
Sustain me through and through
You are hope and truth
You must bring a little water
You must bring a little water

In the lone hour of my sorrow

Who springs never fail
Be faithful and true
Like a well-watered garden
Like a spring it never fails
You're my spring that never fails
*Courtesy of www.sing365.com*

As you can tell, pretty much the whole song speaks to me heart. It is how I desire to be in my life: that through the suffering, the pain, sorrow, and tears, I can still say with 100% of my being, that God is my saviour, healer, and redeemer, and the list can go on and on. Isn't it beautiful that our God has many different names. For the fatherless, He's a father. For the weak, He is strong. For the friendless, He's the ultimate friend you can have. He can be your Shepard, when you need direction. He can be and is, all of these things to us, yet we forget who He is and what He is for us, when the suffering and pain come into our lives. It's like, we say "God you are my everything," one day. The next day our day might go hay-wire, and then suddenly we are violently angry at God, saying "Where are you in my life. What are you doing to me?" Instantly forgetting how He has brought you through the storms that have already come, forgetting that He will bring you through the next one as well. I wish I wasn't this way. I wish I could honestly say that this wasn't me, but it is. I'm just glad that God still loves me, despite my stupidity.

Who are you when the tears fall? Are you one who is holding on to God, or does He get pushed away? Just some thoughts to start off your week.






Sunday, January 8, 2012

Elise's Sesame Noodles

Asian cuisine is one of my favorite categories of meals I absolutely, positively enjoy to the fullest. However, a lot of the time when you order it at a restaurant or a to-go place, it's very oily and greasey, and causes stomach problems 24 hours later (you get the idea). Eatingwell.com/recipes has become one of my favorite websites that helps me in my quest for a healthy lifestyle, and for menu planning. They are a GREAT resource for healthy recipes, that are low in calories, without losing the flavor. I've made a lot of Asian meals from them, including vegetable fried rice, peanut noodles with shredded chicken, and this recipe that I am about to share, that all have been absolutely mouth-watering, stomach-pleasing recipes!! I hope you like it, if you try it. I guarantee you will.


Food Challenge #8:

Elise's Sesame Noodles
Preparation time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar, or lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 bunch scallions, sliced, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided (optional)
4 cups snow peas, trimmed and sliced on the bias
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
(These ingredients are for 8 servings (1 1/2 cups each). For less servings, you can do the math :)

1.Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook spaghetti until just tender, 9 to 11 minutes or according to package directions. Drain; rinse under cold water.
2.Meanwhile, whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, canola oil, vinegar (or lime juice), crushed red pepper, 1/4 cup scallions and 2 tablespoons cilantro (if using). Add noodles, snow peas and bell pepper; toss to coat.
3.To serve, mix in sesame seeds and garnish with the remaining scallions and cilantro.
4. ENJOY!!!!





(Reading the recipe again, I think it's intended on eating cold, but I had it warm, and I would prefer it that way. But you can decide which way you would like it best).
Warning: it's not completely spicey, but it does have a little kick to it, but you could tame it down by adding less crushed red pepper than it calls for.

Nutrition Info:
Per serving: 345 calories; 12 g fat ( 2 g sat , 5 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 51 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 12 g protein; 10 g fiber; 542 mg sodium; 336 mg potassium.
*Courtesy of eatingwell.com/recipes*

Yes, it is just that simple!! Isn't that what you want in a recipe? Can I get an AMEN! :D





*Their outcome*





*My outcome*






Happy eating everyone!! I have more recipes to share with you, so be checking back here this week. :D


Saturday, January 7, 2012

I'm Back!!

Sorry Folks. I took a brief leave of absence from posting while I was on Vaca in Cali until I got settled in again in WA. So here I am, hoping to be back to my typical blogging schedule this week.

My Cali trip was filled with visits with family & friends, baking, playdates for Baxter, card games, reading, relaxation, and beautiful, Sunnny California days to enjoy. I got to meet up with several friends that I didn't get a chance to see during my last trip to Cali: Hannah P., Della, and Rachel H. It was nice to be able to catch up and hang out with each of them, in our own special way. With Hannah, we ate dinner in downtown Pasadena and talked the night away; with Della, we went antique looking in downtown Pomona, and with Rachel we caught up on life at Starbucks, especially about her pregnancy! :) I also got to meet up with my other good friends, that add an extra blessing and joy to my life, Christine F.,Christina, my old co-workers Andres & Cristy! With Christine, it was fun to visit her in Redondo Beach, where I loved seeing her 6 month old Josiah (such a cutey!!) and collecting sea shells on our sandy-beach walk (and got a little wet, too). With Christina, we caught up like usual, playing Guitar Hero, and laughing at how our dogs played with each other. It's safe to say that Bailey and Baxter are best buds! With my old co-workers we went out to dinner and caught up on life, and Twilight. ;D

I got to spend time with my Cooney and Zickefoose families. Sure is nice to have loving people to surround your life with, especially those people that are added to your life through marriage; such a blessing they are! It was also fun to catch up with family that I hadn't seen in awhile, too. Like my Boucher and Greer cousins. Hadn't seem them both in awhile; always nice to catch up with family!

The holidays were nice this year, too. You learn as you get older, that the holidays are more about spending time with family than the excitement of opening gifts. It's nice to have casual gaterings, spending the days with the ones you love, reflecting on the true meaning of the day. Christmas eve was spent with the Zickefooses, doing their traditions of Christmas Eve service and dinner at Claim Jumpers (yes Adam, we did keep the tradition running for you!). It was nice to spend this day with them. Christmas was spent with my parents and grandparents, with my mom's traditional Christmas morning Breakfast, stockings, and presents. And then in the mid-afternoon we went to my grandparents and had early dinner, presents, card games, and of course basketball. I headed home early so I could skype with my love, since they were in port for the holidays. So good to see him at the end of a special day. Made the day that much extra special! For New years, we spent the day at Hungtington dog beach, which is south of Bolsa Chica and North of Seal Beach. It was a very nice beach! Baxter was a little hesitant with the water, but did enjoy running in the moist sand. He needs some training with fetching, but I am planning on working on that with him before Adam returns. Once he gets it down, he will love the beach all the more. His favorite part of the beach was playing with the other dogs. He LOVED this one dog he played with near the end of our day. It was so cute to see them chase, wrestle, and jump all over each other. So cute for a puppy-mommy to witness! :)

All-in-all, my vacation was nice. It was nice to enjoy a bit of relaxation before I would come home and start working again. Oh ya, by the way, I started at my new job yesterday, Friday! It's exciting to have a distraction that will make time pass by more quickly for this last leg of the deployment. Officially have 25% left!!! :D Although it was nice to start, it was very overwhelming. And when I say overwhelming, I really mean information overload X 1,010! Seriously. But I know it will get better, so I'm rolling with the info, taking things one step at a time. Baby steps that is! Well, that's a little catch up on me. Here are some pictures of my time at home, mostly of Baxter, but you won't mind.






*Baxter & Bailey = best buds for life*






*Baxter & Heidi*






*Baxter & Lucy. Don't be fooled, this was a rare occasion!*






*New Years Beach Trip*






*Chasing after balls at the beach*






*A candid of my second love and I*






*Can you guess whose with me here? It's a boy and he's my only sibling. Shoot! I think I gave it away! ;D *








Happy week everyone!! It's good to be back in the swing of things. :D